Four Ways to Repurpose a China Cabinet

Turn an antique or vintage china cabinet into storage or display space

estate sale china cabinet
"16.RND.ChinaCabinet.WDC.12mar06" by Elvert Barnes / CC BY 2.0

Owning fine china worthy of being displayed may have fallen out of fashion, but that doesn't mean china cabinets need to be retired, too. Antique malls, flea markets, and consignment shops typically have china cabinets in a wide range of styles, sizes, and price points. Don't pass one up just because your dining room is already full. Well-made china cabinets can make stylish storage and display pieces in other rooms of your home.

Fancy Bookcase

Book lovers never seem to have enough shelf space, even if they have a home library or designated reading nook in the bedroom or den. If you'd like something a little different from a standard bookcase, then a china cabinet could suit your needs. 

An attractive china cabinet with sturdy wooden shelves makes a great alternative bookcase, and it keeps old leather-bound volumes dust-free behind the glass doors. As a bonus, you can stash your less display-worthy bodice-ripper romances behind the solid wooden doors of the lower section of the china cabinet. After all, you have a serious literary image to maintain.

King-Size Curio

Want to display your grandmother's collection of valuable antique vases or protect collectible dolls from your little one's tiny hands? A china cabinet makes a wonderful curio cabinet. You can even outfit it with small LED lights to illuminate your collections.

Most china cabinets are much roomier than the tall, skinny curio cabinets typically sold new in stores. And if you buy a vintage version at a flea market or antique mall, it will probably be sturdier than a new curio cabinet and it'll cost less, too.

Kitchen Storage

Few cooks feel that they have enough storage space in the kitchen. If a new addition or pricey remodel isn't in the household budget, there are simpler and less expensive storage solutions. One option is bringing in a vintage china cabinet to occupy some out-of-the-way wall space in your kitchen or breakfast nook.

Just as it does in the dining room, a china cabinet gives you extra space for displaying your prettiest dishes. The closed doors on the bottom give you space to hide less attractive practical items or kitchen equipment. By adding a china cabinet to your kitchen, you'll free up priceless built-in cabinet space as well as give your kitchen a trendy yet functional piece.

Trophy Case

If your young child or teen has won lots of trophies and awards over the years, consider placing a small-scale china cabinet in their bedroom. It makes a stylish trophy case where they can highlight the symbols of their accomplishments.

Or perhaps there are adults in the house who have old awards they'd like to show off. The right china cabinet can make a great trophy case in a family den, home office, or even a man cave (or woman cave). The same idea can work for a hobby or special interest. For example, a woodworker might fill a china cabinet with collectable tools and display personal projects, or pottery fan can show off favorite pieces or perhaps an arrangement that demonstrates their development as a potter.